Monday, January 31, 2011

A solid month of blogging

I find that things like National Write a Novel Month and National Blog Every Day Month don't usually fit into my schedule. Thus, I just made January my personal "Blog every day" month without making a big deal of it.

The first three weeks were pretty easy but, as you may have noticed, I've been dragging for the last week. I'm think I'm going to fall back to 3 or 4 times a week and since if that ups the quality a bit.

I'd like to commit to doing something every day in February, but I haven't quite decided what it will be. Right now the top candidates are to practice the piano every day or to work on writing a novel every day. February's short. I should probably do something really tough, like writing a poem every day, but I think I'll leave that one until the summer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A lovely dinner with no photos

I have a new level of respect for food photographers: it's HARD to take good pictures of oatmeal muffins and cranberry bread. (Think about a lot of brown baked goods on our brown-and-tan plates on our brown table.)

However, I want to recognize today as the day my cooking went completely out of control, but in a good way. So here's a list of recipes and links without any photographic evidence to back them up.

Korean Broccoli (I don't know the Korean word for it): delicious after being allowed to marinate for a couple hours. Definitely a keeper.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts: a perennial favorite in our house. Clean brussel sprouts and chop in quarters if large, in half if medium, and leave alone if tiny. Place in pie plate and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees or higher until thoroughly browned, stirring occasionally. Should take around 40-50 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the pieces.

Spaghetti with Fried Egg: one of The Minimalist's favorite recipes, and now one of my favorites, too. I screwed up the timing and cooked the eggs too much, but it was still delicious.

Oatmeal Muffins: another favorite in our house. My older son likes a couple of these for his school lunch on days when he isn't buying the hot lunch. The buttermilk really does define these.

Dutch Apple Bread with fresh cranberries: an old recipe from my grad school buddy Beth. I've never seen this exact recipe on the Internet, so maybe one day I'll get around to typing it out. I didn't have any margarine and this isn't as good with butter or vegetable oil (I used a combination) but it was still worth eating!

Butternut Thai Soup: oh, baby! I will make this again, and again, and again... I didn't have any Kaffir lime leaves so I just zested most of a lime into the soup at the end. I think that worked out well. I also didn't have any unsweetened coconut to use for a topping but I don't think we missed it. (I will try the coconut if I ever have any on hand.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Selbu Mitten

Not really a finished object, as it needs a partner, but still a good milestone!

The palm side:

The back (visible) side:

Fun fact: every since my third or fourth pair of mittens, I have always started by knitting the right mitten first. Every time I go to take pictures of the first mitten I curse this decision. (I'm right-handed, and the camera function on my phone is hard to manipulate with my off-hand.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

FO: Sticks and Stones Socks

I actually finished these in late June 2010, but never got together a photo-shoot for them. A few nights ago I needed to cheer up my younger son so I thought about having him model them for me... what a ham! We had a marvelous time taking pictures of the socks and he went to bed happy.

Yarn: Felici Sport from Knitpicks, 1 skein (100 grams)
Color: Sticks and Stones
Needles: size 3 wooden

The pattern was basically made up by me, but inspired a pattern in Sensational Knitted Socks

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Delayed Start

We got 14 inches of snow last night, and my employer very kindly delayed our start by 2 hours.

The only problem with such a delayed start is that I had to wake up, stagger downstairs, bemoan the level of snow, fire up my computer, and check my email in order to find out about it. By then, I was already fully awake, so I just proceeded with my morning.


Yes, having an extra 2 hours in the morning does lead to a better breakfast: whole wheat waffles with strawberries and a touch of agave nectar.

Now I'm off to shovel my sidewalk before I walk to work.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random Wednesday

1) Pictures taken in low light should not be shared with the blog.

2) My town is supposed to get another 8 inches of snow tonight. The drifts from the previous snow storms are almost over my head. I'm not looking forward to seeing them pick up any more height.

3) I've made a lot of progress on the Selbu Mitten.

4) No, you can't see (reference #1 above)

5) I saw "True Grit" over the weekend. Loved all but the last 10 minutes of it. I was very happy to see it pick up a bunch of Oscar nominations.

6) I can't believe that "Despicable Me" didn't get a nomination for "Best Animated Movie."

7) WEBS has Noro Retro on sale. I am trying to fight temptation. I am losing, badly. (If the weather was any better I'd be driving up there right now.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten favorite health and beauty products

I honestly don't know if I can come up with 10 items for this list... I'm a pretty basic, undecorated person.

1) Dove soap
2) Chapstick
3) Toms of Maine toothpaste
4) Toms of Maine mouthwash
5) Oil of Olay Age Defying Night Cream
6) Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion

My shampoo isn't anything to crow over and neither is my nail care routine. I'm quitting at six!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Proof of mitten

Since Shelter hasn't actually seen me knitting it yet, I took a picture of the mitten so that I could prove to her that I am, in truth, making progress.

(My resolution about taking better photos didn't manifest itself today... time and temperature constraints won out, yet again.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Jessalu just blogged about Peppermint Peeps and now I can't get them out of my head!

What do you think: yummy on hot chocolate, or just weird?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My next mittens

Late last night, I cast on for my next pair of mittens:the Selbu Mittens from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski

Friday, January 21, 2011

FO: Mittens for Tommy

Pattern: a mash-up of a palm pattern I found in Charlene Schurch's Mostly Mittens and another palm pattern I found in Selbuvotter.
Needles: size 4 wooden
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Selects Worsted Merino Superwash, in garnet and light grey
Time: exactly 3 weeks

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Proof of life, or the seedlings after 20 days

Several green basil seedlings can be seen in the foreground and background.

The purple basil, which occupies the middle 4 rows of each container, is virtually invisible against the dark soil.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random Wednesday

because I forgot to take pictures while the light was good.

1) I still have a cold. I'm doing better now that I have a steroid-based inhaler to back up my Nyquil, but it hasn't been fun.

2) My town is a sheet of ice.

3) My basil plants are only about 50% sprouted. I don't know if this is because I'm using very old seeds, or because the room is too cold.

4) Despite making a late start, the purple basil is totally winning over the organic and Italian basil seedlings.

5) It is almost impossible to take a good picture of purple basil.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten favorite games from childhood

1) Sorry! - easy enough for the younger cousins to play and still have a shot at beating us elder cousins
2) WAR - a mindless game, good for entertaining smaller cousins while watching TV
3) Hide and Seek - good in a house with lots of odd closets
4) Sardines - see above
5) I Spy - used by my parents to keep me busy on car trips
6) The Alphabet Game - see above
7) 24 - this is a game where everyone stares at the numbers on the license plate, or billboard, and has to use basic math to get the digits to equal 24. Great for long car trips. I could beat both my parents before I was 10... no wonder I became a math teacher!

Example: suppose you spot the digits 1285. 1x8x(5-2) = 24

8) The Name Game - I think this has a sillier name in real life, but I can't recall it. We used to play this on tennis team trips... somebody starts with "Carrie Smith" and then the next name has to have an S, so "Sarah Jones" and then "Jennifer Dillman" and then "Don Drake" which reverses the order of play because of the alliteration. We played where you had to use names of students at our school.
9) Game of Life - not one of my personal favorites, but my two best friends, Amy and Amy, adored this game so we played it a lot.
10) Monopoly - this one's on the list for my mom and uncle... I always thought this one was boring, but they would stay up all night to finish a game.

Monday, January 17, 2011

WIP: more on those mittens

After taking a few days out to finish Pembroke, I was relieved to be able to put some serious knitting time into the mittens yesterday.

Still sniffling, still congested, and now adding coughing to the mix... AND I don't get today off. Can I curl up in a corner and whimper for a few minutes before I leave for work?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pembroke minus buttons

I am so sick that I had to send my brave husband to WEBS to get buttons... let's hope he chooses well...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Cold Strikes Again

In this case, I mean the virus, although today's high of 15 F was not too thrilling, either.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WIP: Pembroke

I've also been working on a baby sweater:

This is Pembroke, ostensibly knit in size 12 Months but currently looking like it could house a 3-year-old. I must have it blocked and wrapped by Sunday at 11am, so I'd better get cranking on those borders...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fresh pictures

I finally snapped some pictures of the mittens. As you can see, I haven't finished the thumb yet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Work in progress: Mittens for T.L.

Back in April, I promised to knit a pair of mittens "in Bates College colors" for my student, T.L. Real life intervened (plus he chose an astoundingly hard pattern!) and I faced the embarrassment of going eight months without producing the mittens. I finally confessed to him that the difficulty of the pattern was slowing me down, and he kindly agreed that I could simplify the pattern to make them go faster.

I cast on Friday night, and here's where I was on Monday morning:

I got a lot more done yesterday evening, but haven't taken fresh pictures yet.

I'll post all the details with the Finished Object post!

Monday, January 10, 2011

FO: feather and fan scarf!

I knitted this the week before Christmas, but didn't block it until yesterday.

Pattern: Feather and Fan Lace
Needles: size 5 wooden
Yarn: Valley Yarns Huntington, almost 2 skeins

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Knitting summary for 2010 (New Years part 3)

I don't have pictures of all my finished knits from 2010, but I can summarize them here:

5 variations on Bella's Mittens
4 pairs for little kids
Dashing for my step-mother
some lovely cabled mittens for my upstairs neighbor who moved away
The 4-10 mittens for my advisee, who graduated
The unfortunately-pooling Spiral Mittens for my younger son's preschool teacher

2 scarves: a Cabled Keyhole Scarf for my mother, and a Feather-and-fan scarf for my mother-in-law.

1 shawl: Ishbel, for my mother

2 pairs of socks for my children (pictures coming shortly! I promise!)

1 vest: a Cabled Baby Vest for my friend's first child

Can I just say: Thank Heavens for Ravelry, without which all of this organization would have been impossible?

That's 19 knitting projects, at least double what I've done in any previous year. Being sick and injured for much of the year did boost my production, but also having a commitment to daily knitting (even a few rows) also really helped. I left at least six UFOs in my wake; as I unpack I keep finding half-done socks and scarves. Finishing those will be one of my goals for 2011.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

bad basil picture

Apparently, little dark-green seedlings are very hard to photograph in poor light:

Hint: look at the top left container, then look at its top right corner.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Little basil seedlings!

but, alas, no pictures. I got home too late to get the good light, and they're only a few millimeters above the dirt.

The backstory: I planted these seeds on New Years Day. (It's an old family tradition that I had forgotten over the past two decades.) My mother and I used to plant all sorts of things, which she would carefully nurture under a couple Grow-Lights until they could be planted outside. I didn't have the energy to think that far ahead, so I just went with a lot of basil, which I can always grow in pots until it's warm enough to transplant them outdoors.

So: first seedling spotted last night (the 6th), among the Italian basil plants. Today, I think I can see a couple more coming in, but I'll know for sure tomorrow.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All together: three variations of Bella's Mittens

I have now knit Bella's Mittens five times, and plan to do at least one more.

I think I pictured each of these as it got finished over the fall, but I took a last picture just before wrapping them and had to share it with you:

All three pairs knit with Berkshire Bulky from WEBS on #8 wooden DPNs.

The light blue pair has a shortened cuff and one extra rib. I gave it to my son's 2nd grade teacher.
The light green pair has a shortened cuff, one extra rib, and a hugs-and-kisses cable. I gave it to my younger son's kindergarten teacher.
The red pair has an extra rib, and ends at row 75 to make them fingerless. I made them (by special request!) for my cousin who lives in Georgia.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Keyhole Scarf

I made my mother a Keyhole Scarf for Christmas.

I don't think she liked it as much as I was hoping she would.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten things you wouldn't want to live without

As Carole said: people are not "things" and therefore will not be listed here.

1) Books
2) Music
3) Knitting
4) A modern bathroom...
5) and a modern kitchen...
6) and a first-world supermarket
7) 21st century medicine (like my asthma inhaler)
8) My washer and dryer
9) At least one credit card
10) A dog (although I am pet-less at the moment)

Note that my car isn't on that list - while I wouldn't want to live HERE without a car, I can imagine living quite happily in Manhattan or another city without one.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolutions (New Year part 2)

A lot of my resolutions remain the same from last year. The "lose weight" one is still on the list because it didn't work out too well. The "knit every day" one is still on the list because it worked fantastically well. The "read 100 books" resolution is there because I always achieve it and it's nice to know that at least one of my resolutions is totally within my grasp.

1) Knit every day.
2) Read 100 new books.
3) At least 10 of those books should qualify as Good Reading - by which I mean that my mother or aunt will have heard of the title. (Glancing over last year, I think Half-Broke Horses and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society might be the only qualifiers.)
4) Exercise more.
5) Lose weight.
6) Convince my family to get a dog.
7) Be less snarly.
8) Get things done on time.
9) Have the house totally unpacked and clean by the end of the summer.
10) Take better photographs.

I plan to make use of the library's extensive collection of Books on Tape to help with both #1 and #2.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mittens finished!

and just in time, as my little buddy's party is THIS afternoon. Yes, I'm a last-minute knitter!

It took me about five tries to get a decent photo of them: I finally put a white bin lid by the window, waited until the sun went behind a cloud, and used my phone's camera with the flash turned off.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year (part 1)

Here's how I spent my New Year's Eve:

Details: Cascade 220 Superwash on #3 needles. Navy blue and "tropical fruit paints." Sized to fit a 3-year-old child.